Cruise Lines Experience a Surge In Online Web Traffic

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The popularity of cruises has been confirmed by data released by digital intelligence provider Similarweb. The analysis that the company undertook focused on web traffic to major cruise line websites during the first quarter, known as WAVE season, a period when cruise lines put out their best deals, and the largest amount of bookings for cruises are made.

Surge in Cruise Line Online Interest

WAVE Season is a critical time for cruise lines. It is during this period that they offer some of their best deals, drawing in a significant number of bookings. According to Similarweb, a company that provides insights and data about website traffic, the first three months of the year saw an 11% increase in web traffic to cruise line websites compared to the same period last year.

The data confirms what cruise companies have been saying for some time now: the pent-up demand for cruises that have been lingering since the global pause in operations is far from over.

Royal Caribbean Group, which operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea, performed the best over the first three months of the year. Royal Caribbean International performed the best, boosted by the arrival of Icon of the Seas, and drew 16.9 million website visits, a 14% year-over-year increase.

Cruise Line Web Traffic Growth
Cruise Line Web Traffic Growth (Credit/Data: Similiarweb)

The largest cruise company in the world, Carnival Corporation, can also look back on a successful quarter across the board, with a combined 7% increase over its three biggest brands.

Traffic was up for Princess Cruises with an increase of 11% and Holland America Line with the biggest increase of all brands, 26%. Surprisingly, website traffic to its biggest brand, Carnival Cruise Line, remained behind, with virtually no increase compared to the results of 2023.

Cruise Line Web Traffic Growth
Cruise Line Web Traffic Growth (Credit/Data: Similarweb)

Carnival did experience a tremendous spike in 2022 and 2023 with the release of its new Excel-class vessels, including Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, and Carnival Jubilee, so this could be the numbers stabilizing somewhat. Around 14 million website visits are still a significant number for the brand.

For the third largest brand in the United States, Norwegian Cruise Line, traffic is up 12% in the first three months of 2023, with the cruise line profiting from the successful release of Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva.

MSC Cruises Stands Out

While the three largest brands in the United States saw notable increases in web traffic, MSC Cruises, the world’s third-largest cruise line, emerged as the standout performer for Q1 2023.

MSC Cruises experienced a strong 21.4% year-over-year increase across its websites, with its U.S. site seeing a huge 33% spike in interest. The push that MSC has made to break further into the US market seems to be paying off for the European cruise line.

MSC Cruises Ship in Florida
MSC Cruises Ship in Florida (Photo Credit: Mia2you)

Virgin Voyages, though smaller in scale, continues on its growth path that has seen it increase visitor numbers year-over-year, now seeing a 20% increase in web traffic, drawing 2.7 million visits globally.

The data shows that the increase is not limited to just a few names; it’s a trend that spans across the industry. While one would expect that the growth numbers seen in the last six months of 2022, and in 2023, would level off somewhat, the opposite seems to be the case. 

The introduction of innovative ships by Royal Caribbean and Carnival, along with MSC Cruises and Virgin’s breaking into new markets, are strategies that have proven successful in attracting new guests. The question is only when the growth will end as the popularity of cruising soars.

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